A Big Bloody Hole With a Backhoe

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Sofia Jannock (left) and Lovisa Negga (right)

“Someone will make a big bloody hole with a backhoe in what we love, which is forever beyond repair. I get so angry.” Lovisa Negga

Two powerful Sámi artists are raising their voices against the mining near Jokkmokk.

On Friday, Lovisa Negga will take to the stage in Stockholm and dedicate Mihá Ja Gievrra, which means Proud and Strong, to the protest. The song (the title track to her new album) is sung in Lule Sámi, my ancestral tongue, which I find (not surprisingly) very beautiful. Negga says it is “a peaceful struggle song” that can “strengthen me and other people when things feel a bit hopeless.”

You whisper loudly
Everybody hears it
Shout it out, you are proud and strong
Whisper loudly
Let everybody know
Speak from your heart, proud and strong

The world is still generous
The power is heartless
You feel insignificant but will last forever
The one who dares say something
Will defend the mute
So use your voice, and free us all

Sofia Jannock’s new music video for her song Áhpi-Wide as Oceans includes images from the protests in Kallak interspersed with images from the Alta demonstrations of the 70’s and 80’s.

“The events in Kallak becomes a symbol of the exploitation of Sápmi . . . I wanted to get  the historical picture. These are issues that affect people personally, in everyday life, so it feels good to take them everywhere. Not just on the news pages.”

Read more in this article for SVT  (in Swedish). If you haven’t already, please sign the STOP MINING IN JOKKMOKK petition here.

You can find previous releases of Negga’s music here and Jannok’s music here (Amazon).

Another remarkable voice is Maxida Märak with the Downhill Bluegrass Band. Here she is with a cover of Steve Earle’s The Mountain:

Solidarity with Gállok

IMG_9997KallokOn August 12th, several of us gathered at the Swedish Club in Seattle for dinner and a photoshoot to demonstrate solidarity with Kamp Kallak, the group protesting the mining project in northern Sweden. Kallak is the Swedish word for the area; in Sámi it is Gállok. The mine site is near Jokkmokk, famous for its annual wintermarket, a 400+-year old tradition that has a special place in my heart, as my eighth great-grandfather Igor Ivanoff (1620-1680) is said to have traded at the first market.

Our special guest from Jokkmokk was May-Britt Öhman, resplendent in her Lule Sámi gakti at left. A dam safety researcher, May-Britt was in Seattle for a conference and gave us the nitty-gritty on the situation in Gállok, particularly the risk to the Lule River dams and water safety in the entire watershed. She encouraged our advocacy. Later we dined at a seafood restaurant on the waterfront, pounding tiny crustaceans with tiny hammers, feeling far away from the barricades yet nonetheless, united in passion.

Please sign the STOP MINING IN JOKKMOKK petition here.

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